skincolour

The Tragedy of Black African History

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2009 at 8:53 pm


20080520_aids_africa

The history of Sub-Saharan Africa cannot be boxed in with two achromatic colours and a noun:

White Opression of Black = history.

Such a scheme not only deprives blacks of historic agency while scapegoating non-blacks, it is objectively wrong. The history of Africa is far more tragic than a simple story of good guy vs bad guy. It is the tragedy of inequality, of ignorance, of denial, of universalism, and of history itself.

White dominance of black Africa began only in the early 19th century. It ended a century and a half later, for a cumulative 150 years of imperialism. Until the early 1800s, white settlements in Africa were sparse. The Sub-Sahara was populated almost exclusively by negroes, with a nomad Arab minority dominating the Sahel. A Jewish converso trader population settled in port-cities throughout Portugese outposts, some mestizo populations here and there, and colonial trade-ports with western white traders positioned in crucial spots along the circumference of Africa. There was absolutely no permanent inland settlement by anyone than the rare Semite; Africa was a black continent, in black hands.

***

A story of  black Africa, and its relation to the external world, must begin with Sub-Sahara’s cultural state prior to and during contact with the external world. Tragically, if negroes are to enjoy historic agency, Sub-Saharan history must accept the central problem of blackness.

This task has been made prohibitive by two factors: the racist white histories of the past, and the apologetic left-wing narratives of the present. Without delving into the obstacles both amount to, it is imperative that a history of Africa transcend them, for the sake of objectivity.

There is no shame in admitting, that Africa had been and remains backward vis a vis those who come to her shores and jungles. On any civilisational measure, this was and remains so. White Narcissist historians attempt their best to eschew the facts, and to distort Africa‘s historical ignorance. They go so far, as to force the United Nations to finance, publish, and endorse poorly researched archaeological work, and propound it as undisputable truth. The resulting revisionism, is as zany as  Holocaust denial. Africa not only missed the Iron Age, even its agricultural revolution was not equivalent to that of other civilisations, and hence failed to produce any form of urbanity worthy of mention.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a  rich history of interacting with Euroasiatics, who were its principal conduit of advancement. The source of such interaction was of the Sub-Saharan East Coast, along the Horn- where Egyptians, Greeks, assorted Semites lived and traded – and a marginal impact of Polynesian culture via Madagasscar, as revealed by the presence of yams.

The agriculture heartland of Sub-Saharan Africa is the Niger delta. It lacks any identifiable Vavilov Center, and no associated staple-crop. Research on the subject is poor, and what agriculture is though to have been  practiced, appears limited to tubers and roots. Sub-Saharan Africa was defined by pastoralism and river-based pisciculture, not agriculture proper.

Lacking robust agricultural development, Sub-Saharan Africa was primitive and supported far less people than any textbooks suggest; locked into a prehistoric system of tribalism, it culturally paralleled Papua New Guinea, or the Australian Aborigines – but within a mammoth geographic setting. Its backwardness brought with it both a mentality poorly adapted to the expansionist mindset of Euroasiatics, and a culture guaranteeing irrelevance to the world economy. There is an aspect to the Black Continent’s history that intimates a virgin rainforest predated by poachers – and it is an altogether accurate intimation.

Contact with Sahel Arabs brought some history to Africa, due to the 17th century adoption of Arabic alphabet by Swahili speakers. But while negroes abounded in pottery and vases across the Ancient Mediterranean, without a written languages of its own , Africa remained deaf and mute until the introduction of writing by Europeans.

In terms of identity and mindset, analphabetism produced a people who were shocked out of the stone-age by rapacious foreigners. As already mentioned, such foreigners found themselves faced with a primitivism few of them had ever encountered, and they duly took note. While most of their observations are today written-off as savagely racist, they are in fact merely the reflections of peoples who had taken their own level of development, for granted.

The Arabic and Iberian image of the negro vacillated between aggressive savage and credulous child. That this wasn’t merely the working of a non-black imagination strikes a modern reader as morally implausible. Indeed, in many ways, this image wasn’t merely the working of a racist imagination – but of simple observation. That it perseveres in relevance, is once again, not merely an issue of non-black racism against blacks, but a Central Problem of Negritude itself.

Having no history of agriculture, a very patchy history of the production of iron, and no urbanism of which to speak, this Papua New Guinea on steroids would find its entrance into world-history in the most brutal of ways. Few who idealize tribalism, understand how it predisposes towards brutality.

The tragedy of Africa is in some ways the tragedy of historical method. While the Diamonds and Toynbees take the development of Sumerian-Ur  for their universal model, and extrapolate it into Harappa, Aztlan, Titicaca, Yang-Ze, and countless civilisational starting points, they ignore the development of culture and societies which do not fit this Mesopotamian model.

This ignorance, accounts for the revisionism which attempts to attribute to a region as vast as Sub-Saharan Africa the traits of Mesopotamian developmental model, as if failure to have them were a sign of eternal damnation and racial inferiority.

This is tragic, in the sense that the absence of metal techniques, agricultural know-how, and urban living, is not proof of any inherent inferiority of a race. Failure to follow the Mesopotamian model certainly accounts for comparative social and cultural inferiority in as much as can be gleaned from an overview of individual case studies, but this just proves the absence of a superior model, saying very little if anything, about genetics.

slavery

To conflate history with opinion about heritability, is to prohibit the necessary exploration of the centrality of the Mesopotamian model to the development of mankind. Observing the detrimental impact of the model’s absence on the various societies, is the best way of doing so. The Diamonds and Toynbees may not be aware of their prejudices, but they do us a disservice by ignoring the developmental course Sub-Saharan Africa exemplifies. For them, all is linear, and moves from the primitive, to the sophisticated.

In the Mesopotamian model, there is a linear progression from the Palaeolithic, to the Neolithic, and from pottery to metals via sedentary farming and urban development. Anthropologists identify social sophistication, with the emergence of writing, specialization, and civilisation. Historians explain the rise and fall of certain civilisations, with a variety of technological, cultural, demographic, and economic determinants. When asked why the Mongols seized half the known world, they tell us its due to horse-straps, stir-ups, ponies, superior war-tactics, better archery techniques, and discipline. When asked why Europe invented Capitalism, it is because of “private property” as understood in late medieval Italy. Whatever the question, historians have deterministic answers.

With Sub-Saharan Africa the same historians are forced to abandon such techniques, largely for fear of political offence. Rather than explain the Dark Continent’s history with the objective dynamics of what happens when a literate encounters an illiterate, they suddenly resort to moral categories and judgments such as “racism” and “hatred” instead of stating the obvious.

That the history of Africa is painful – needs no restating. That it is particularly painful due to Africa‘s own lack of development, and very often total lack of desire for such development, is off limits. Not to be said, not to be thought.

The pain of Africa isn’t limited to the Atlantic and Trans-Saharan slave trades, nor to the lowly status of negroes in Port-au-Prince, Sao Palo, Washington DC, or Clichy a suburb of Paris. It isn’t limited to Jim Crow, to Leopold’s Congo, or South African Apartheid. The tragedy goes far beyond these instances of geography, deep into the problems of millennial illiteracy, backwardness, and the primitivism still abounding in seemingly innocuous manifestations as rap music, or nefarious corruption-plagued African dictatorships.

Had the Toynbees and Diamonds done their homework, and not sought to reduce the world to the Mesopotamian model, they would have arrived at an astonishing discovery about the heartlessness and of history itself. Not everything is linear, and flows from primitive to sophisticated. Not all nations eventually take their rightful place in history, and even if so, “rightful” may mean atrocious. History’s tragic heartlessness is best exemplified by the brutal chronology of black Africa‘s development.

***

Until the tenth century, Africa was marginal for the World economy. Its existence was marked by primitive tribalism. Cannibalism was not an invention of racist non-blacks. In general, tribal barbarity remains unknown to modern man, due to an inability to imagine what it entails. It’s intrinsic inhumanity, and inevitable barbarism are something he wishes to suppress, in order to assuage his guilt of being modern.

Starting with the Arabs, black Africa began its gradual entry into the world economy. Unlike other participants in this economy, who either exported what they could extract from the earth, or make with their own hands, black Africa had only one good to offer, black African hands.

What this means, remains unappreciated till our very day. It’s not that negroes were exploited by slave-owners, nor taken over by non-blacks for the purpose of enslavement – its that Africa’s tribal primitivism left Africa nothing else to offer – other than the activity which most increases a chieftains power over his tribe – slavery.

China and India and Europe traded in silks, glass, and ideas, thus improving people’s standard of living. The identity of each of these peoples remains tied to the history of such trade, to the glass and the silk, and with the standards of living the trade brought. These people take pride in creating the tools which permitted them to improve their well-being, and each and everyone of them is jealous of the mental advantage this creativity entailed. The populations of China, India, and Europe grew partly as a result of carefully nurtured productivity increases.

Not so for black Africa. It’s population grew not in relation to any increased internal productivity, or creativity, but directly in proportion to the value of its sole export – chattel. Having no agriculture, or means of productive food-gain, its population could never have increased without external demand, and direct subsidy of such growth. If not for slavery, Africa would remain sparsely populated and virginal. This has severe implications for the identity of negroes, wherever they be.

While a Chinaman and European can scribble a flattering tale of their own ascent – full of heroic deeds and mental dexterity while remaining objective, the negro enjoys no such advantage. For him to write an objective history of his continent, is to admit to its poverty, barbarity, and subsequent vulnerability to abuse. It is to accept  that the Mesopotamian model had never been Africa‘s privilege, and hence those who derived from such a  model, came to enjoy the privilege of dominance over the African.

This privileged dominance led to inexplicable population increases, as tribes across the region struggled to meet the external, and eventually internal, demand for slaves. Since few or hardly any of non-blacks ever penetrated Africa proper, it was up to ruthless negro chiefstains to produce slaves through warfare and political dominance, in order to reap economic benefits.

While an Indian Raja or German feudal could justly claim credit for a bountiful crop as a result of responsible management of his holdings, a black tribal leader could claim this credit exclusively in relation to his ability to produce, capture, or procure negro chattel.

The difference this must produce in the possible narratives of a Gujarati, a Bavarian, and a Bantu, are appalling. All three yearn for glorious and fancy histories, only the former two can claim them without exaggerating. The Bantu, is left to accept stark atrocity.

***

From the tenth century onward, Sub-Saharan Africa’s export driven slave economy led to increased demand for food, which the continent only met with the harmless introduction of Portugese farming techniques in the sixteenth century. Naturally, the  man-power required for such techniques, led to increased domestic demand for slaves.

While negroes had always relied on some form of slavery even for their primitive economies long before any Arab or white merchants appeared, the ability of black chiefstains to increase their wealth by both exporting slaves to foreign markets, and by exploiting them for agricultural labour, led to astronomical population growth. By the beginning of the 19th century, what was once a sparsely populated sub-continent, was quickly becoming crowded, and the next logical step for tribal leaders, after the production of slaves for export and domestic agriculture, was their employment in domestic extraction in order to offer Africa‘s vast natural resources on the international market and further enrich themselves.

Since Africa had not been penetrated in any meaningful way by non-blacks until explicit colonialism of the 19th century, the responsibility for such tragic economic development, lies squarely with the backwardness of tribalism that continue on the continent. Africa’s modern bloodthirsty dictators are not the product of five hundred years of white domination, but of the tribalism beyond which Africa has never grown, from the moment it had been populated!

The number of slaves owned by black African tribal leaders, was often greater than those owned by white plantationers in the Caribbean, Brazil, and the southern states of the USA. It is plausible, that if not for the brutal tribalism which allowed for such slave-ownership and production (whether through growth or capture of slaves), Africa would have never become a source of so ghastly, and degrading enterprise.

It is obviously easier to scapegoat the white end-user of two hundred years, than to accept the responsibility of millennia of one’s underdevelopment. Scapegoating relieves negroes of having to face a kind of history no other continent is forced to face – one of homogenous darkness.

The tragedy of Black African history is manifold. The tragic primitivism of tribalism, led to a society whose social structure allowed for heartless exploitation by tribal chiefs at all stages of history. The tragic integration of an entire continent into the world economy on negative terms from its first contacts with Sahel Arabs, to the present integration in a globalised world. The tragic impact such integration had on the development of African culture, society, and economies. The tragic imposition of censorship on intellectuals trying to discuss and understand this tragedy.

By the time enlightened Western abolitionists succeeded in terminating the trade of black slaves in the Atlantic, Africa‘s economies couldn’t even produce the slave surplus necessary for the trade! By the end of the 18th century domestic demand outstripped domestic production, and African’s turned inward.

It was then, that western whites, decided to intervene in African affairs, on the pretext of eradicating internal slavery. In practice, their attempt led to colonialism, the birth of racial consciousness across the African continent and in imperial circles of Europe. It did changed nothing of the social structure, and the accompanying tribal mentality.

While some responsibility for the fate of black Africa does lie with non-blacks, it does so to a far more limited degree than is desired by white narcissist and racially conscious blacks. A historian passionate about counterfactual history would serve the science well by posing the question of whether negro slavery would ever have reached the dyzying heights of the Atlantic slave trade, without the primitivism of black tribal society, in its barbaric political, cultural, social, economic, and psychological forms.

While the exploitation of blacks by non-blacks is properly decried by those who partook of it in the western white world -and oddly ignored by those of the Arab world- the responsibility of those who grew and managed this industry remains off limits! Facing up to ones barbarity, is possible only when you have advanced beyond it – explaining not only why western whites can face up, while non-whites, apparently can not.

  1. […] pm on May 16, 2009 | # | 0 The Tragedy of Black African History […]

  2. Not to pick nits with this highly provocative article, but is “chiefstains” an accidental misspelling or are you poking fun? If it’s unintentional I thought you should know.

    I would have emailed you but I gave up looking for your email address. If you want to censor this I won’t mind since I haven’t addressed the substance of the paper. I may quote you though.

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